LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — During the 91st General Assembly, legislators passed 17 new laws pertaining to medical marijuana. Some of the more drastic proposals were shot down, but there were plenty of changes to the voter-approved amendment.
At the Good Earth Garden Center in Little Rock, past experience makes owner Gregg Curtis shudder at the notion of an employee using marijuana.
One worker, who did not deny being high at the time, nearly lost his hand in a lawnmower accident.
Good Earth is a business where employees drive company trucks and operate heavy machinery. Safety is a top concern.
Meanwhile, Joanie Hopson lives life in constant pain. She says she suffers from a connective tissue disorder and contracted Lyme disease 10 years ago.
“Sometimes I can’t stand to have my little dog here get on my lap,” she said.
Hopson hopes marijuana can help her get off a slew of prescription meds and return her to happier times.
“I know people in states where marijuana is legal,” she said. “They have gotten their lives back.”
Both these Arkansans watched with interest as the state legislature debated changes to the medical marijuana law. The changes are allowed under the amendment passed by voters.
“Did they do anything to cripple the program or to hurt it? No.” says amendment sponsor David Couch.
The new laws limit marijuana advertising and smoking in places where cigarettes are banned. One law, much appreciated by Gregg Curtis, allows businesses to fire medical marijuana patients in safety sensitive jobs.
“We need to know that they’re not on drugs,” Curtis said of his employees.
Lawmakers imposed new taxes and required pharmacists to work at dispensaries.
While Hopson is glad they didn’t go further, she’s worried those changes will make the drug more expensive.
“One of the things I was looking forward to with the cannabis was that it would be more